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Eye on France: Sex in radio and TV

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Leonardo da Vinci: only a man, but playing a blinder in diplomlatic circles five centuries after his death. DR

Gender inequality is thriving on French radio and TV. The results of a 17-year study have just been published and they show that the opinions of men get to occupy two-thirds of the airwaves, leaving just 32.7 percent to women. Elsewhere, how Leonardo da Vinci brought diplomatic peace to France and Italy.


The National Audiovisual Institute got a computer to listen to 700,000 hours of broadcasts. It’s the biggest study ever undertaken, anywhere in the world.

And the results are unsurprising, if unedifying.

Whatever the channel, whatever the year – since 2001 men got to blather publicly a lot more than women. And this includes the presenters, the analysts and those invited to give expert opinions.

Mostly men.

Even on channels like Teva and Chérie 25, which specifically target women, men do more than half the talking.

And our sister station France 24 is remarkable for the fact that women get to speak 45 percent of the time. Well done the neighbours.

At the other end of the spectrum, sports specialists like Eurosport and L’Equipe manage a miserable 7 and 17 percent respectively.

Cultural and education channels like Arte don’t do brilliantly either, with an average around 30 percent.

And women become even more silent during the peak audience hours, with the private sector employing significantly more men than their public competitors in the evening slot between seven o’clock and nine.

Things are improving. The number of women’s voices on the radio increased by nearly 10 percent between 2001 and last year; the telly study covered only the years 2010 to 2018, and showed a 5 percent increase.

Why is this happening?

To partly explain these dismal statistics on another aspect of gender discrimination, Le Monde points to the phenomenon of “manterrupting,” that habit which is evident at home, work and in the broadcast studio, whereby a male will answer a question which has been directed to one of his female neighbours.

Over at right-wing Le Figaro, the conservative paper notes that only half of France’s big businesses (ones, that is, with more than 1,000 employees) had met last Friday’s deadline for filling in the form on gender parity.

There were five questions on the form, which is intended to contribute to the calculation of a fairness index, with financial penalties for those companies which fail to respect certain norms.

The questions look at the difference in pay scales for men and women; the number of wage increases or promotions accorded to the members of each sex; the way the return to work after maternity leave is considered is also noted, as is the number of women in senior positions in the boardroom.

Even for the half of the businesses that bothered to reply, the CGT trade union feels that a certain amount of wool is being pulled over a certain number of eyes.

A union spokesperson says the outstanding fairness claimed by some concerns clearly means that they cheated in the basic calculations, especially on pay differentials between men and women.

The French Labour Minister, Muriel Pénicaud, says she’ll give poorly performing operations three years to improve. Or else she’ll make them pay.

The fines could amount to one percent of the total salary bill.

Smaller businesses (between 250 and 1000 employees) have until September to respond; those with fewer than 250 workers have till next March.

And the minister has promised that she’s going to increase the number of work inspections by a factor of four. Perhaps by employing more female inspectors?

Let's hear it for Leonardo!

Leonardo da Vinci has been dead for five hundred years, but he still packs a powerful diplomatic punch.

The French ambassador has already returned to Rome in the wake of the recent spat between the two countries. That row was, basically, about Italian government support for the French yellow vest movement. Now, according to the French daily newspaper Le Monde, the culture ministers of the neighbouring nations have made peace in a small war over the loan of works of art.

Late last year, to general embarrassment, an extreme right-wing minister in the Italian government said it was out of the question to allow works by Leonardo, “a great Italian,” to leave the peninsula.

But the climate seems to have softened, with the Roman Culture Minister last week stressing that the works of the great Italian are also part of the European and universal heritage. Rome is delighted that Paris wants to celebrate the genius of Leonardo.

France has asked to borrow a pile of the Renaissance master’s work for an autumn exhibition at the Louvre. And, in return, Rome can have a bunch of paintings by Raphael for a special show next year in the Italian capital.

It is, as the Italian daily La Repubblica puts it, a resounding victory for art, and for diplomacy. Even, perhaps, for the art of diplomacy?

Well done Leonardo.

Not bad, for a man!